The westernmost state, Vorarlberg is also Austria’s smallest. However, the 28-km shoreline on Lake Constance adds a special flair, in contrast to the state’s alpine hinterland.
Vorarlberg is isolated from the rest of Austria by the Arlberg mountains. Hence its name, “before Arlberg”. No worries! It’s connected to Tyrol by road and rail. Furthermore, the tiny state also differs from the rest of Austria both culturally and language-wise. Austria’s second smallest state offers a multitude of activities and tourist attractions – summer or winter.
The majority of the state’s population are of Austrian-Germanic descent and speak an Alemannic dialect of German. Whereas the rest of Austria uses a Bavarian-German dialect. Many cultural features are often more similar to what you find in Switzerland. Notwithstanding, Vorarlberg still has an Austrian feel to it. It wasn’t always the case that the people of Arlberg felt like Austrians. In a referendum after WWI, 80 % voted to join Switzerland. Despite the clear vote by the Vorarlbergians, the Austrian Government and the Allies prevented this, and Vorarlberg became a state in the new Republic of Austria.
Except for a flat sliver of land along the river Rhein towards Bregenz, Vorarlberg is completely mountainous. The dramatic alpine landscape, with peaks up to 3300 meters (10826 ft), and green valleys dotted with picturesque villages, lends itself to fantastic hikes. The region of Bregenzerwald is a mix of open agricultural landscapes, forests, and mountains. The lovely valley Kleinwalzertal is surrounded by high mountains on three sides and is located within Vorarlberg, but is only accessible via Germany. It’s famous for its hiking and ski possibilities.
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Sun lotion and ski resorts
In the same manner, as in the other alpine states of Austria, winter tourism became the main focal point for tourism in Vorarlberg. Moreover, like the rest of Austria, except for Burgenland, Vorarlberg has plenty of ski resorts. Montafon and Lech am Arlberg are examples of the most well-known ski resorts in the state. You’ve perhaps heard about Piz Buin? Yes, it is the highest mountain in Vorarlberg with 3312 m (10.866 ft), but also gives its name to a brand of skin protection products. Notwithstanding, Vorarlberg has also gained interest among travelers looking for summer attractions. Besides the obvious mountain hiking, you can enjoy some lakeside fun as well.
Lake Constance / Bodensee
Austria has just a tiny 28-km shoreline at Lake Constance, as the majority of the lake is shared by Germany and Switzerland. Nonetheless, it gives the country access to the third largest lake in Europe. Boats and ferries that port in Bregenz all year, connect Vorarlberg with several towns in Switzerland and Germany. Harbour and day cruises are also leaving from Bregenz during the summer months.
Lakeside capital Bregenz
The state capital is only the 3rd most populated town in the state, with 30.000 inhabitants. On the other hand, Bregenz is elegant and has an eloquent atmosphere. Not only because of its famous annual summer music festival but also from its lakeside. Bregenz is probably the only place in Austria where you have a proper “sea-side promenade”, as it straddles the shore of Lake Constance. That’s not bad, in a completely landlocked country.
For more info: Vorarlberg Tourism
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